When Tony Knight set out in 1985 to develop an inline muzzleloader to excite the hunting community, he would’ve never compromised quality for anything. In fact, Knight Rifles has always been proud to label its firearm components, clearly identifying them as industry leaders, like Green Mountain barrels. Almost 30 years have passed since the first Knight rifle changed muzzleloader hunting, and the guns they produced over that time period are a testament to how well Knight's firearms are built.
Most of Knight’s rifles would be considered exceptional quality worth the price tag they carry. Better yet, the research and development team at Knight have been working on refinements to offer consumers an economically priced inline rifle without compromising overall quality, resulting in the introduction of the Freedom Series of rifles.
The Freedom Series is simply a new line from Knight Rifles offering the same quality their followers love and expect, with a price that’s easier to afford. The changes are subtle, like a trigger guard and ramrod guides made of polymer instead of metal. Knight team members insisted on maintaining the Freedom Series as 100 percent American-made craftsmanship and are proud to point out that every part of its rifles, from screws, bolt, trigger, stock and barrel, are all made and sourced in the USA. It retails at only $479 but still comes standard with high-quality components, leading to the accuracy guarantee of a three-shot group measuring less than 4 inches at 200 yards. It’s a bold guarantee the company stands behind and is the performance consumers are demanding.
The Freedom Series Disc Extreme comes standard with a black synthetic stock and stainless barrel. It is more utilitarian in appearance than the regular Disc Extreme rifle that comes with either the straight or thumbhole stock. The Freedom stock hasn’t been completely stripped of looks and features, though, with checkering on the palm swell and forestock for looks and grip. The raised cheek piece or comb on the butt of the stock allows a better fit for most shooters while the forend is knurled down or flared as a hand stop. Overall, the rifle is well constructed and shows it. All parts are tight-fitting for a solid look and feel. Anyone looking for a rugged hunting-style rifle will like the overall appearance of this rifle in any model and won’t be concerned about scratching an expensive laminated wood alternative.
Handling And Shootability
The Freedom Series Disc Extreme handles extremely well and would be hard to discern from any other Knight rifle in the face of a blindfolded shopper. It is comparable in weight and balance to any standard magnum rifle and offers a stable platform for mature shooters. At 8.5 pounds without a scope, bases or rings, the weight of the rifle helps significantly to manage recoil. Loaded with 100 grains of Pyrodex, the rifle had little felt recoil or barrel lift. There is more felt recoil and muzzle jump with a 150-grain magnum powder load, of course. The good news is the recoil drives straight back into the shoulder, allowing the shooter to maintain a sight picture of the target. The rifle does come equipped with a one-inch-thick, soft recoil pad.
The rifle shoulders smoothly, is easy to balance, and shoots well off the bench and from shooting sticks. A rest would be recommended for hunting or shooting. It comes with metallic sights and is drilled and tapped for mounting a scope.
The trigger in this rifle is outstanding and is crisp with no creep. The rifle tested had a measured trigger pull of 3½ pounds, which is standard for any Knight rifle. The triggers are fully adjustable, but that should be done by a gunsmith. Triggers are not to be set below 3 pounds to maintain warranty.
The trigger is undoubtedly a major factor in the 200-yard accuracy guarantee. The rifle shot well with Pyrodex and Triple Seven powder, producing three-shot groups under 2 inches at 100 yards. The Freedom Series might be an economical line for Knight, but they didn’t cut corners on the trigger as an integral part of accurate shooting with any muzzleloader.
Water, Weather And Corrosion Resistance
There are several features that help keep the Freedom Series Disc Extreme waterproof and weatherproof. The bolt action, plastic primer jackets, and snug fit of the primer into the breech/nipple make the source of ignition completely sealed. The tight tolerances of the barrel allow you to seat a bullet and sabot, taking up the full bore, where it sits on the charge to keep water from getting to your powder down the barrel.
The metal parts of the gun are treated with a ceramic-like coating to resist corrosion and extend the period of time between shooting and cleaning. The proprietary name of the coating is DYNA-TEK, and it does aid in the cleaning of the barrel, which holds less fouling. If you are a shooter that doesn’t want to swab between each shot, you’ll appreciate the effectiveness of the coating. It is noticeable when compared to untreated barrels.
All Knight Rifles are outfitted with an American-made Green Mountain barrel, which are known for being individually hand-tested. The Freedom Series is no different, and the barrel displayed a clear view of distinct lands and grooves that were smooth and clean. The lines were clean and distinct, meaning a bullet and sabot won’t be scored, which can produce gas leaks and inconsistent results with bullet accuracy.
Barrels are 26 inches in length, providing plenty of capacity to ensure complete powder burn in magnum loads. They have a standard 1:28-inch twist in the .50-caliber rifles, making them ideal for the modern bullets and sabots hunters have come to appreciate for consistency and accuracy. This rifle does come with a stainless-steel barrel, which will be easier to maintain than a more value-priced blued barrel.
Bullets do require strong, steady pressure to seat completely, and the tight tolerances produce a seal to prevent gas leaking out or moisture getting in. A tight-fitting sabot produces consistent results on the range, even though they can be trickier to load. The plastic jacket and primers are placed directly into the notched bolt, which inserts the ignition source directly onto the nipple, making it easy to charge your load without the aid of special tools. The plastic jacket and primer was easily extracted by working the bolt for quick reloading. The Freedom Series Disc Extreme comes with an aluminum ramrod and brass insert.
Knight uses a full plastic jacket, which accommodates a 209 primer when loading. The primer does fit tight into the jacket, making it impenetrable to water. The units are easy to handle and are red in color, making them easy to see. The primer units are inserted or placed into the machined bolt face that holds it in place. The bolt then aligns the primer to fire directly into the nipple for consistent results. The ignition system is versatile, allowing you to also use Musket caps or #11 percussion caps, where required by law, making it legal in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The bolt action locks the primer unit or percussion cap in place to practically eliminate misfires. The bolt can be stiff, but locks down firmly. New guns need to be shot and the actions worked in order to get them to move smoothly. A threaded safety on the back of the bolt can be activated when screwed out, preventing the rifle from ever firing. A separate safety toggle located behind the closed bolt slides back and forth, putting the rifle in "safe" or "shoot" mode. This secondary safety is to be used when the bolt safety is screwed in, making the gun ready to fire, in hunting situations where quick reaction might be required for a shot opportunity. The bolt can be completely disassembled for cleaning and is inserted back into the action by pulling the release on the side of the receiver.
The rifle comes with an extension tool to remove the breech plug for cleaning. The tool is inserted into the action when the bolt is removed to fit over the nipple and breech plug, allowing you to turn the unit out for cleaning. It is quick and easy and the ceramic coating in the barrel helps speed up the process. It is imperative you put breech lubrication or grease on the threads of the cleaned unit before putting it back into the gun for easy removal after shooting or for cleaning.
Is It Right For You?
The rifle shoots as well as any higher-priced gun and will give you a chance to embrace the intricacies of muzzleloading if you are just getting started. With a full-sized stock and bolt action, it has a look, feel and balance that makes it easy to shoulder and find your target fast. It is value priced and comes with the proud assurance it is American-made from front to back. The rifles shoots consistently and offers tight groups with different powder loads, making it competition-ready for the range or more than suitable for hunting. It will stand up to different weather anyone could encounter in North America and has features to ensure it fires when you want it to.
Customers only need to pick up the gun and compare it directly with other muzzleloaders in the same price range. They should also be compared to the regular Disc Extreme rifle from Knight to see the slight differences incorporated to generate value. The bolt-action rifles often get a bad rap, as they take slightly longer to clean than break-action rifles. The real consideration should be the performance, consistency and reliability you want and expect, knowing you only have one shot. If you have a big buck at home, does it really matter if you need a few extra minutes to clean your gun? The cleaning has to be weighed against the protection against rain, snow and moisture and the positive ignition when you demand it.
Equipped with a 26-inch Green Mountain barrel, fully adjustable trigger, stainless-steel bolt and barrel, metallic sights, DYNA-TEK weather coating and a 200-yard accuracy guarantee, this rifle simply can’t be overlooked in your search for a new smokepole.
Manufacturer: Knight Rifles; www.knightrifles.com
Model: Freedom Series Disc Extreme
Caliber: .50 caliber
Action: Bolt action
Twist rate: .50-cal. 1:28-inch
Barrel: 26-inch stainless steel, DYNA-TEK coating
Ignition: Full Plastic Jacket with 209 primer, musket cap or #11 percussion cap
Trigger: Fully adjustable trigger
Sights: Fully adjustable, metallic sights, but drilled and tapped for scope mounts
Stock options: Black laminate straight
Overall length: 45 inches
Weight (unloaded): 8 pounds 5 ounces without a scope
Other features: Aluminum ramrod, jag, soft recoil pad